The set-up to this story is pretty well known, so let’s summarize quickly:
The genius (get it ?!?!?) behind the Apple Store concept and execution, Ron Johnson, took the CEO role at J.C. Penney in November. Two months later he announced a complete business overhaul. The requisite change-of-logo and new brand theme.
Plus the requisite appointment of Ellen Degeneres as J.C. Penney spokesperson, making this her 428th company among the S&P 500 for which she holds such a role (that assumes she doesn’t sign on with Deere & Co. before this post gets, um, posted).
The real deal came in CEO Ron Johnson’s focus on merchandising, including pricing. Turning into “Fair and Square” and “Your Favorite Store” will be driven mainly via:
- A simplified pricing structure
- A massive store-within-a-store transformation
A critical component of the three-pronged pricing strategy is the elimination of deep-discount sales. Instead – *drum roll* – everyday low pricing. We’ve seen this “EDL” movie before. About a hundred times. It doesn’t end well. See Walmart. Several times.
Two-to-one odds JCP “modifies” its everyday-low approach by late September/early October 2012.
Much more problematic will be the retail renovations. From several of the media mentions of the new JCP comes this: “The company also plans to install 100 mini-shops in each location…” A hundred?
First, from a branding standpoint. Apple didn’t have to do any “brand” marketing these past several years. Instead, the sum of a TON of product marketing for iMacs and iPods and iPhones and iPads yielded a 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 = a zillion effect.
The sum of 100 stores-within-a-J.C.Penney-store will equal brand chaos.
Second, from an experience standpoint. Walking into an Apple store is akin to chancing upon a goat rodeo. But with infinite newly built space, walls of glass, brushed stainless, and handsome wood, it turns out to be a cool and innovative goat rodeo.
J.C. Penney doesn’t have the luxury of new space, or much time. How does J.C. Penney turn ONE HUNDRED stores-within-a-store into a branded experience, versus a “place to shop”?
And how can J.C. Penney make this perform like an Apple Store?